"Error is human; that's why there're so many of us."
"THE DINKUM DICTIONARY" AND "SLANG AND EUPHEMISMS"
(TWO BOOKS THAT ARE RATHER INTERESTING BUT NON-COMPUTER-RELATED)
by Richard Karsmakers
A while ago (a bit over a year now) I started studying English.
It had been a lurking ambition for several years already, but it
just refused to make itself visible. All that time I had written
primarily in English, and I had always been curiously interested
in all sorts of books that were about English as a language.
Thesauruses. Rhyme dictionaries. Standard dictionaries. The Zero
computer magazine. That sort of stuff. Isn't it anyone's wish to
be able to speak a second language with such fluency and with
such a grabbing lexicon that everyone will mistake you for a
native speaker - I know it's mine!
In recent months I've been able to add two invaluable books to
my English collection, being "The Dinkum Dictionary - A ripper
guide to Aussie English" by Lenie (Midge) Johansen and "Slang and
Euphenisms - A Dictionary of oaths, curses, insults, ethnic
slang, sexual slang and metaphor, drug talk, college lingo and
related matters" by Richard A. Spears. These two books are
extremely handy guides to expanding your vocabulary - and I'm not
merely referring to profanities here, even though the latter of
the two books does tend to concentrate on that a little.
The Dinkum Dictionary
First I heard of this book when our ex-conspirator Mark van den
Boer (whom some of you may remember doing a machine language
course back in 1986 and 1987, way before the regular mags even
started doing an "ST Basic" course!) sent me photocopies of some
of its pages. He's been in Australia for over a year now, working
as a software engineer for Macdonald Dettwiler (an originally
Canadian company involved with satellites and other advanced
communication systems), so when he saw it he reckoned I'd be
Of course he was right, and I immediately arranged for him to
acquire me a copy, which I received quite a while back.
On the contrary to "Slang and Euphemisms", "The Dinkum
Dictionary" also contains ordinary use of language, or secondary
connotations of seemingly ordinary use of language, nearly
17,000 entries in all. Obviously it's aimed at Australian
English, but in most fields this tends to coincide with British
English a lot - after all, Australia used to be a British colony.
Apart from a 482-page dictionary (plus another 15 pages of more
words in this revised edition), it also spends 30 pages
summarizing specific synonyms to common topics such as "male or
female genitals", "anger or hostility", and some more harmless
stuff. Did you, for example, know that there are many synonyms
for "to vomit", some of which are barf, bark at the lawn, berley,
big spit, bring up, chuck, chunder, colourful yawn, cry
Herb!/Ralph!/Ruth!, fetch up, go for the big spit, heave (one's)
heart out, herk, hurl, laugh at the lawn, liquid laugh, long-
distance call on the big white telephone, park (one's) tiger,
perk up, puke, solid smile, spew, technicolour yawn, throw a
seven, throw (one's) voice, throw up, turn up, and yodel? Surely
some of these must have struck you as rather original - and just
wait until you get to the "Slang and Euphemisms" bit, for that
has some more, too.
The primary task of the book, of course, is that it's a
reference guide for those who are talked to. If you should ever
have the fortune of running into an Aussie (i.e. an Australian in
case you didn't know) you might hear something along the lines of
"Bugger me dead! Get a load of the knockers on that Sheila - what
a knockout!", which the Dinkum Dictionary will explain you means
something like "Isn't that strange? Look at those breasts on that
female - what a fine specimen!"
Of course there are zillions of examples.
"The Dinkum Dictionary" is a treasure of words that will, if you
leaf through it, possibly even expand your own English so as to
allow you to actively use many of its words and expressions.
THE DINKUM DICTIONARY, published by Viking O'Neil, 1991
ISBN 0 670 90419 8
Slang and Euphemisms
The history of how I came to know this book is very short. I
walked into the "American Discount Store" in Amsterdam, saw it,
leafed through it, and bought it. That's all there is to say,
This book is rather more direct, and even claims some scientific
accuracy as the descriptions of the words include specifications
such as when a particular was in use, and where. To get back to
the word "vomit", for example, it would tell you this particular
word has been in use from 1300 on, meaning either "to eject or
release the contents of the stomach through the mouth" or "the
contents of the stomach when brought up".
Did I mention I would mention synonyms? Well, OK. The "Vomit"
entry states "See list at YORK" (which is obviously a synonym
too). The synonyms are "accounts, air one's belly, barf, be at
the curb, become ill, bison, blow beets, blow chow, blow grits,
blow lunch, blow one's cookies, blow one's doughnuts, blow one's
groceries, boag, boff, bow to the porcelain altar, bow to the
porcelain god, brack, brake" and more than half a page of 'em
more. Of course, each synonym has its own category - so for
example you could check under "brack" and you would be told "to
make a vomiting sound, to vomit" and that it's onomatopoetic
(i.e. the word is derived from the sound, which in this case
seemed uncannily similar to the Dutch synonym "braak").
The book contains 14,500 entries, where half of them will be
extremely rude and the other half will let you laugh your head
off. Would you for example know that "talking to the busdriver"
is a euphemism for a rather explicit sex-related operation? Or
that a button-hole factory is brothel? Or that Irish Tootache
refers to the stiffening of a certain male organ?
"Slang and Euphemisms" is a lot more explicit - and cheaper too
- than "The Dinkum Dictionary". Whereas "Dinkum" has more
'normal' expressions, "Slang and Euphemisms" is definitely the
most comprehensive list of non-standard English ever seen by me
(and I've seen quite a lot, as I kinda flip out thoroughly on
this sort of stuff). Definitely worth buying!
SLANG AND EUPHEMISMS, published by Signet, 1991.
ISBN 0 451 16554 3
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.